Reviewed by: Larry E. Wilson
Enjoying God—Experience the Power and Love of God in Everyday Life, by Tim Chester. The Good Book Company, 2018. Paperback, 192 pages, $14.44. Reviewed by retired OP minister Larry E. Wilson.
We affirm that our “chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (WSC Q. 1). But do we really enjoy him in the day-by-day grind? Alas, all too little. Tim Chester sets out to help remedy that in Enjoying God. He does so by applying sound, gospel-centered doctrine to ordinary living. This easy-to-read book is written so as to not unnecessarily scare away those who aren’t familiar with Reformed vernacular, but it’s thoroughly Reformed. Chester quotes Calvin and various Puritans throughout. In large part, he digests and applies the teaching of John Owen from Communion with God.
This book is scriptural. Not only does it exhibit a sound doctrinal framework, but also Chester takes pains to make clear the biblical basis for his observations and suggestions. Two underlying principles saturate Enjoying God. First, we can know the living and true God; we know him through the three persons of the Trinity, so we relate to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Second, we can grow in knowing the triune God; our union with him in Christ is the basis for ongoing communion with him in experience. Chester fleshes out these principles in fourteen practical chapters. “The first step in relating to God,” writes Chester, “is to relate to each distinct Person of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit” (17). Then he proceeds to show how to do so in the ups and downs of life—with three chapters on engaging with the Father, three chapters on engaging with the Son, and three chapters on engaging with the Holy Spirit.
This book is also pastoral. It’s by no means abstract or merely theoretical. Chester writes to ordinary Christ-followers in today’s context. He makes concrete applications in a number of ways. First, he starts the book with a story about Mike and Emma. Their Lord’s Day fills them with comfort and gospel encouragement. They’re excited about living for the Lord. But by Monday morning, it all seems to go wrong. He comes back to their story with each chapter, showing how the theme of each makes a huge difference—not to their circumstances, but to their walk with God in the midst of those circumstances. Second, he strews helpful illustrations and examples throughout the book. Third, each chapter ends with a “putting it into practice” section—suggestions to help apply the principle discussed in the chapter. Fourth, each chapter is followed by questions for discussion.
Let me highlight a few points I really appreciated. First, his clear discussion of real communion in the Lord’s Supper was outstanding. Second, so was his discussion of the “means of grace.” While we do well not to reduce them to “spiritual disciplines,” he suggests that we might do even better to think of them as “means of communion” with the triune God (132–134). This can help us steer clear of an impersonal misuse of them. Third, throughout this book, he stresses the importance of Christian fellowship. Our union with God in Christ is at the same time union with everyone else who is united to God in Christ.
This book is quite good for personal reading, but it also provides great fodder for discussion in a small group or an adult Sunday school class.
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